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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

Life is not about achievement, it's about learning and growth, and developing qualities like compassion, patience, perseverance, love, and joy, and so forth. And so if that is the case, then I think our goals should include something which stretches us, Jack Canfield. Such exemplifies the life and times of Charles Mugo an established entrepreneur who has risen from humble beginnings.

Having graduated from St. Paul's University in 2004 with a degree in Bachelor of Business Administration and management, accounting option, and after having been in the second class after the pioneer class in 2003, Mugo admits his was a journey of carving a path that was yet to be discovered.

At the time he joined, the institution was at the verge of redefining its mission and philosophy from a predominantly theological college offering biblical studies to an accredited Christian university offering "secular" courses in management and liberal arts. This transition did not only receive resistance from some quarters within the management but it also made the business course students to be viewed as "aliens". As part of the transition, St. Paul's University was for the first time admitting a relatively young generation of students compared to the elderly constituent within the faculty of theology.

Additionally, after graduation, ˜we were conferred with degree certificates bearing the name of St. Paul's United Theological College. This made it difficult for the graduants to join the market as many prospective employers and corporate institutions admitted as to not having ever heard of a theological college that is offering degrees in management courses. That not withstanding, it did not deter his pursuit for academic and business excellence.

Mugo looks back at those times and attests that St. Pau's University is clearly not the same theological college he knew then. Development in infrastructure including classes and ICT facilities as well as increase in the number of lecturers is just among many of the factors showing that the institution has upgraded to a better learning environment. He says, In our times, Mr. Aswani was the only permanent lecturer we had, I am happy that Business Administration program has grown to a level that warrants a department on its own.

Charles Mugo was born in Central Kenya and attended Kiangwenyi Primary School. In 1995, he joined Kiini Secondary school in Chuka, Eastern Kenya. I joined Kiini not because of my performance but because I could not secure a place in central Kenya having performed poorly partly because of my tea kiosk business that took more of the study time. I none the less worked very hard, and I managed to be among the few students in our year that secured a university admission qualification, he says. In 2000, he joined St. Andrews Kabare; an affiliate college of St.Paul's United Theological College as it was known by then to study accountancy. After a short period of time, he dropped out due to financial constraints.

Shortly after dropping out of St. Andrews Kabare, he was admitted at the Kenya Power and Lighting Company training college in Ruaraka where he successfully studied and completed an Interruptible Power Supplies maintenance course.

In mid 2001, Mugo received a full scholarship courtesy of Mr. David George Preddy of South West London in UK to study at SPUTC where he went back to pursue his dream in business studies and later graduated in 2004. Soon after that, his sponsor offered him another scholarship to study an MBA in the University of Nairobi. Having secured an admission to study a master's degree in one of the premier universities in Kenya was a litmus test as to the quality of the course I had undergone at SPUTC. 

In December 2007, Mugo attained a masters degree in finance. I would like to tell those studying at SPU that theirs is not a lesser degree, it is as good as all others offered elsewhere, he says. A programmes accountant at Anglican Church of Kenya Directorate of Social Services, and the chairman; board of communications A.C.K diocese of Mt. Kenya South, a member of the diocesan synod in the same diocese and at one time the treasurer; A.C.K Shinyanga parish, Mr. Mugo is not only a man of titles but also an accomplished entrepreneur. He is one of the director's at Patwam Beauty Centre Ltd, a company that is jointly co-owned by him and his wife Suzanne. Patwam owns Unisex beauty shop, a lead cosmetics outlet in Limuru located on the ground floor, Njengi Plaza.

The entrepreneurship spirit has always been in me since I was born, he says. In 1993 when he was in class seven, he established a tea kiosk and used the money he made to pay school fees for his two elder sisters who were in high school and a tertiary college by then. I had to make tea because my dad had just lost his job as a local chief adds Mr. Mugo. It's amazing to see that at such a tender age, Mugo struggled to help his parents who were financially unstable.

When Mugo finished his high school education in 1998, he refused to remain idle like many of his friends would and instead started selling snacks in Kerugoya town and other neighboring shopping centers. Within a short period, his business grew and he then started buying snacks from Nairobi, transporting them to Kerugoya. He would then use his bicycle to supply the snacks to shop keepers around the town. When Mugo realized that demand for his services had greatly increased, he established a home bakery to be able to meet the demand. By 1999, his was a home bakery renowned in Kirinyaga.

In September 2009, after his wife who is a trained accountant resigned, they started a cosmetic shop in Nairobi Taveta Shopping Mall with a capital of Kshs. 300, 000. However, the high cost of rent, competition from established outlets and a problem with the lease agreement forced them to relocate to Limuru town “We realized that one of the reasons why our business failed in Nairobi was because we did not carry out a market survey very well, he says.

Determined to succeed in the beauty and cosmetic industry, they carried out a research in Limuru town to establish the customers preferences before stocking. I strongly believe that in business the number one consideration is the customer; number two customer and number three customer, he says with confidence. He illustrates how the customer is king. The focus therefore was not on the competitors in the area but on delivering excellent customer service and winning their loyalty. We have been in Limuru for more than a year now and we have never looked back he adds. If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will.


Their success in Limuru didn't come that easy, they have worked for it. Apart from the pricing, going an extra mile to give their customers advice on what products best suit their needs, they occasionally carry out an outdoor campaign. This has given them a competitive advantage, placing them ahead of their competitors. Mugo has since expanded his business to include a salon section located in the same premises.

By moving their business to Limuru town, they brought down the operating cost of the business by a half. By close of the first year, they had a turnover of 1.2 million with a gross profit of kshs.460, 000.

Throughout his career and business endeavors, Mugo remains thankful to St. Paul's for equipping him with necessary skills that have enabled him achieve his goals in entrepreneurship. While at St. Paul's, I experienced great spiritual growth and acquired vast knowledge in entrepreneurial field, two things have cultivated a culture of discipline and determination in me, he said.

Despite the many commitments Mugo has managed to strike a balance between his career and family and he has set aside all Sunday afternoons to spend time with his wife and their three year old daughter, Patience Wambui. For the lighter moments, Mugo enjoys playing badminton and volleyball though he occasionally watches soccer matches at home.

Peter ducker once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. By registering his business as a company; Patwam Beauty Centre Ltd, Mugo is creating a future for his business with plans to open branches in Kiambu, Thika and Nairobi counties.

Having started with a minimal capital of Kshs. 300,000.00, the company has grown to a current net worth of over Kshs. 4 million, and during their midterm review for six months to June, 2011, recorded an impressive performance with a turn over and profits in excess of 1.4 million and Kshs. 500,000 respectively. The company currently has 8 employees. We are projecting the business to close the year with a turnover of not less than Kshs. 3 million, adds Mrs. Suzanne Mugo the operations manager.

Challenges notwithstanding, Mr. Mugo thanks St. Paul's University for equipping him with Christian business ethics that have enabled him practice good ethics in business management and enabled him blend the theoretical and practical aspect of management. Indeed he is a testament of a man who has not let the surrounding challenges limit his inner dream.

I believe through learning and application of what you learn, you can solve any problem, overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal that you can set for yourself,  Brian Tracy.

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